This English folk song will be recognised instantly by British listeners as the tune formed the first few opening bars of the ‘Radio 4 UK Theme’ – an orchestral arrangement of traditional British airs compiled by Fritz Spiegl – which was played every morning at the switch-on of BBC Radio 4, for almost 28 years.
The lyrics of Early One Morning can be found in publications as far back as 1787, but the well-known melody was not printed until ca. 1855-1859, in William Chappell’s publication of his ‘National English Airs’. As is usual with folk art of any kind, no two versions of the song agree beyond the second line, although the subject is always the same - a damsel's complaint for the loss of her lover.
In this Novello edition Early One Morning is arranged for SATB Voices, with Piano accompaniment for practice only, by Thomas F. Dunhill.